Pac-12 Tournament, all NCAA championship competition canceled due to coronavirus
The Pac-12 Conference has canceled the remainder of its men’s basketball tournament in addition to all other conference-wide competition due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Pac-12 announced in a statement Thursday. Shortly after, the NCAA announced that its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments as well as all other winter and spring championships had been canceled as well.
All other Power 5 conferences have also canceled their own tournaments.
“This decision has been made in consultation with our member universities in an effort to limit the spread of the virus and in the interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, campus personnel, working and event personnel, and all those who attend Pac-12 events,” the Pac-12’s statement read.
USC’s men’s basketball team was scheduled to play Arizona in the quarterfinal of the Pac-12 Tournament hours after the statement was released.
“We were all really looking forward to playing in the Pac-12 Tournament, but first and foremost, life is more important than basketball,” senior guard Jonah Mathews said per USC Men’s Basketball on Twitter. “We’re all wishing everybody the best of health and wellness around the country.”
USC Athletics had announced in a statement Tuesday that all intercollegiate athletic events on campus would continue as scheduled but without spectators except family until March 29. Now, however, all Pac-12 competition has been shut down.
“The conference and NCAA tournaments are the most exciting competitions of the year,” head coach Andy Enfield said per USC Men’s Basketball on Twitter. “We’re all disappointed that we can’t play for a Pac-12 title, but we are very understanding of the situation and know that this decision was made in the best interest of everybody.”
USC was expected to earn a berth in March Madness for the first time since 2017. The NCAA had announced Wednesday that its men’s and women’s March Madness tournaments would go on without spectators. However, Thursday afternoon, the organization pivoted.
The tournaments will no longer take place, nor will any other NCAA championships.
“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” the NCAA statement read.
The announcement also comes shortly after the NBA suspended its regular season for at least 30 days immediately after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus Wednesday night. The NHL also announced Thursday morning it is suspending its season. MLB has suspended Spring Training and delayed the start of its regular season by at least two weeks. MLS also suspended its season for 30 days.
USC announced a number of changes to the athletics department moving forward in a press release Thursday. All practices, camps, clinics, recruiting and recruiting-related travel have been suspended until further notice, and athletics department staff will work remotely through March 22, when the situation will be reassessed.
The NCAA’s cancellations also apply to Mountain Pacific Sports Federation competition.
“Our hearts ache for our student-athletes, coaches, alumni, fans, and all those affected throughout the world by the COVID-19 pandemic,” athletic director Mike Bohn said according to the release. “The health, safety, and well-being of our student-athletes is always at the forefront of everything we do. Therefore, our university and athletics department support the decisions made today by the NCAA and the Pac-12 Conference. These are unprecedented days for all of us. I have communicated to our student-athletes that we are here to support them however we can. Our Trojan Family will be stronger for having endured these challenges together.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 10:41 a.m. to include information about the NHL and MLB suspending their seasons.
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 11:35 a.m. to include quotes from Jonah Mathews and Andy Enfield.
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 1:45 p.m. to include information about the NCAA’s winter and spring championship cancellations.
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 3:14 p.m. to include information from a USC athletics press release including a statement from Mike Bohn.